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Mohammed Ehsai (Iranian, b. 1939)
Mohammed Ehsai (Iranian, b. 1939)


Mohammed Ehsai (Iranian, b. 1939)
signed and dated 'M.Ehsaei 09' and signed and dated in Farsi (lower right)
oil on canvas
each 102 3/8 x 46½in. (260 x 188cm.); overall: 102 3/8 x 222in. (260 x 564cm.)
Painted in 2009

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Lot Essay

The present lot is among the largest and most spectacular ever produced by the master calligrapher Mohammed Ehsai.
Mohammed Ehsai represents the continuation of an artistic movement which sought to leave its mark by combining traditional techniques into a modern artistic form. Applying calligraphy as the main element of his works, he tends to utilize his knowledge of graphic arts to create impressive pictures. Other than traditional Persian calligraphy, Eshai's works can be divided into two categories: Calligraphy-Paintings and the Eternal Alphabet.

In his Calligraphy Paintings, Ehsai is engaged in a visual language strongly influenced by structural calculations and the use of calligraphy in architecture, which have enjoyed a long history in Islamic art. Here Ehsai offers a new interpretation of the tradition of graphic arts by transforming coloration, execution and the use of material in a reconfigured sphere that has been made possible by modern graphics. Those pieces which represent a painterly technique with more personal focus tend to convey the artistic passion of the artist, including black and white pictures bearing long alifs (the first letter of the Arabic/Persian alphabet), filled in between with other letters, smaller and denser in their composition.

The significance of these works lies in their ability to create abstract forms through the use of lines. The austere distribution of words within the frame is indicative of a supreme order derived from centuries of utopian idealism within religion. Since the written word has historically been used as a tool for the documentation and transfer of knowledge, each written piece, before even being read, holds an intellectual weight. As such, the presence of written forms and words in an artistic creation, let alone in calligraphic art, places that piece in a symbolic order of meaning.

Time does not have circular nature in these works as it looks linear. Even in the most twisted forms one can still trace back to the point of departure by following the line. Repetitions are fundamental and evidently regulated as calligraphic forms are not scattered. Time is never represented in vague terms; rhythms are clear and can be followed, albeit by way of a detour.

"I have culled reporting and narration from 'the written word'", says Ehsai, "making the form of the letter the main element of my work; in this way, I have achieved individual compositions which are essentially visual structures based on the architecture of letters".

Like many of Ehsai's works in black and white, the present work seems to suggest a dualistic universe.

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